CHICAGO — Anjanette Young said she voted for Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2019.
Now she wants the candidate who earned her support to explain herself, following explosive revelations Young was wrongly targeted by Chicago Police officers who burst into her home last year; then Lightfoot’s administration tried to block news media from airing footage of the incident and sought sanctions against Young for allegedly providing it to a news station.
Young has been thrust into the spotlight following a CBS 2 news report on the February 2019 raid. Body cam video of the incident shows at least 12 officers entering her home on an ill-informed search warrant in the evening as Young prepared for bed, leaving her unable to put on clothes or answer the door before officers barrel through.
CBS reported police were acting on an ill-informed search warrant and raided the wrong home.
The police continue to search the home as Young, handcuffed and nude in her living room, pleads with them that they have bad information and she is alone. One officer retrieves a blanket for Young but she’s unable to hold it closed because she is handcuffed.
Young tells officers more than 40 times they had the wrong address as officers searched her home and asked her to “calm down.”
Before CBS aired their report Monday, city attorneys unsuccessfully attempted to block the news station from airing the video and sought sanctions against “the plaintiff” for allegedly providing the video to the station against a court order. Lightfoot said Wednesday she directed city attorneys to make clear with the court they are not seeking sanctions against Young, but only her attorney.
Young said at a Wednesday morning press conference she wants the officers and the mayor held accountable for their actions and for attempting to suppress the video.
“The officers that did this need to be held accountable, to say that this is not right and they should not do that in the line of their work. That’s not what police officers are supposed to do,” she said.
Young said she continues to struggle with trauma nearly two years after the raid occurred and finds it “unacceptable” the city “has spent the last two years…telling me that they did nothing wrong.”
“To have my home invaded the way it was for over 40 minutes to have to deal with police officers yelling at me, pointing guns at me, telling me to calm down, making me stand in front of them naked, putting handcuffs on my while I was naked, no one should have to experience that,” she said. “They didn’t serve me, they didn’t protect me, they didn’t care about me.”
Through tears, Young then addressed the mayor directly, saying Lightfoot earned Young’s vote when she campaigned in 2019 at her church.
“I believed in you as a Black woman that was running for mayor in the City of Chicago,” Young said. “So I want you to come back to my church and I want you to respond to this, because that’s where you asked me to vote for you. So come back and tell me and the people in my church how you’re going to fix this, so this never happens to me or anyone else.”
After the story was publicized, writer and professor Eve L. Ewing she’d connected with Young to arrange a fundraiser in support of her. The GoFundMe, which has collected nearly $20,000 as of Wednesday, states Young wants to donate anything raised to the Progressive Baptist Church’s social justice ministry in Bridgeport.
Later Wednesday, Lightfoot claimed she’d been “blindsided” by the issue and was unaware of what happened to Young until CBS aired its story Monday night. The mayor then apologized to Young.
“I am sorry, what you experienced should never have happened, period,” she said, addressing Young during a separate press conference.
Lightfoot also said she did not know her law department tried to prevent the video from being aired.
“Filing a motion against a media outlet to prevent something from being published is something that should rarely, if ever, happen, and had I been advised this was in the works, I would have stopped it in its tracks,” she said.
Lightfoot did not rule out firing city officials who were involved in the raid or the attempt to block the video from being published, saying she had been “unsparing in her comments to all involved in this colossal mess.”
Lightfoot began her comments by saying the incident happened before she became mayor and since taking office she’s made changes to how Chicago Police officers may obtain a search warrant, including an edict that body worn cameras must be worn at all times.
The CBS report includes footage of one officer telling another there was a mistake in the warrant process before video feed cuts out.
Lightfoot said she’ll conduct a review of the city’s video release policy, because it’s clear “changes need to be made,” to the policy and said the city will release all video taken during the raid.
If Young consents, Lightfoot wants to use the video as a “training tool” for the department, saying officers shouldn’t invade someone’s home unless they have “complete certainty” it is justified.
“Our officers need to understand that when executing a search warrant on someone’s home, it is a significant and traumatic event, and they have an obligation to ensure that the facts are right regarding the evidence of criminal conduct,” she said.
Lightfoot’s handling of the issue also drew scrutiny among aldermen Wednesday. Members of the Progressive Caucus released a statement calling on the city’s Inspector General to investigate the incident and said they’ll hold hearings on the subject in City Council.
“Whether it’s how the warrant was issued and executed, why the body cams were prematurely turned off, and why the Law Department may have fought the release of this video, Chicagoans deserve to know exactly what went wrong here and what city leaders are going to do to fix it,” the statement said.
Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) also brought up the case during Wednesday’s City Council meeting, prompting a shouting match between him and Lightfoot on whether the topic was appropriate for discussion during the meeting.
At the time, the Council was preparing to vote on an unrelated police misconduct settlement.
“I do think it is important that this city recognizes that we have a systemic issue with police brutality,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “Ms. Young called out the police 43 times, 43 times, to denounce this was an illegal and mistaken raid in her house.”
Lightfoot then ruled Sigcho Lopez “out of order” for speaking on a subject not up for debate, saying he didn’t know the facts and has a history of speaking on issues without the facts.
That prompted Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) to deem Lightfoot out of order for breaking a City Council rule against personal attacks on members of the body, with Lightfoot responding that stating facts are not a personal attack.
Young was joined at the press conference by her attorney, Keenan Saulter, and Chicago activist Ja’mal Green, who previously helped organize protests following the release of video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. Van Dyke was later convicted on second degree murder-charges.
Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel also was criticized for allegedly covering up the murder by withholding video of the incident from the public, a charge he denies.
Green said it reflects poorly on Lightfoot if she was unaware her law department was attempting to suppress the video Monday.
“If you became mayor after Rahm Emanuel, your court counsel should be your right hand man to know everything that is coming through the pipeline, every video that’s going to be released, everything that’s happening in federal court, you should know about,” he said.
Saulter said Young received the video as part of a federal lawsuit they filed but later withdrew. He said they plan to file a new lawsuit against the city of Chicago and the police officers involved, alleging an invasion of privacy and Young’s constitutional right to be protected in her home.
Saulter also took issue with what he sees as an unbalanced approach to releasing police video, where the city releases video that helps their case and withholds video that paints the city in a bad light.
“What I find so galling about the attempt to suppress the video is you’re telling a woman who you violated that she doesn’t have agency over the images of her own body that 12 men saw in her home, undoubtedly male police officers saw back at the station, undoubtedly male members of the City of Chicago legal department saw — but she can’t have it,” he said.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability said Wednesday the agency opened an investigation into the incident in November 2019 and it remains under “active investigation.”